An independent investigation revealed the involvement of members of the UK Conservative Party in Islamophobia. The accused included Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other members of the party.
The investigation, led by psychology professor Swaran Singh who is a former member of the National Equality Commission, was launched by Johnson in 2019 after allegations of discrimination against Muslims within the party.
Conservatives have also been accused of failing to address the issue of Islamophobia. However, the report did not confirm the accusation of institutional racism, noting that the anti-Muslim views of party members are individual in nature.
“Between 2015 and 2020, the party’s central database recorded 1,418 complaints relating to 727 incidents of alleged discrimination, that is, an average of 237 complaints related to 122 incidents per year in a party with 200,000 members,” the report stated.
“Two-thirds of the reported incidents are related to allegations of discrimination against Muslims,” the report added.
“Notable events, such as comments made during Lord Goldsmith’s campaign for mayor and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments on Muslim women wearing the burqa (before he became Prime Minister), give the impression to many that the party and its leadership are insensitive to Muslims. A reference to an article by Johnson published in 2018.
According to the investigation, there is “clear evidence” that the party’s complaints system needs to be “revised,” as its process does not comply with recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Moreover, although the party’s complaints team cooperated with the investigation, it was found that they were not properly trained and lacked resources, with a weak data collection and communication system.
There is also a lack of transparency in the complaints process, without a structured system over how complaints are handled and handled to find a solution.
Likewise, there are no specific deadlines for making decisions or clear guidelines on which actions should justify the imposition of sanctions. According to the report, the team lacks information about how to handle certain types of complaints, and at times is not aware of data on these matters.
“Systems for analyzing discrimination and handling complaints at the local association level are weak or non-existent, without a common understanding of the process. The report says that union presidents have shown little confidence in the system.
The report has already been criticized as a “cover-up” by Muslim members of the Conservative Party, who argue that it does not acknowledge the existence of institutionalized racism within the party, especially in the upper echelons of leadership.
Leading party figures said the review was inadequate and did not address deep biases within the organization, as Johnson demonstrated in 2018, shortly after becoming Secretary of State, comparing Muslim women who wear the burqa and headscarves to “mailboxes” and “thieves.” In a column in the newspaper The Telegraph.
“The way this investigation was conducted means that it is nothing more than an attempt to conceal deep-rooted problems,” said Sajjad Karim, a former conservative member of the European Parliament and chair of the European Parliament’s Task Force on Islamophobia.
“It is difficult to identify any attempt to address serious and credible issues or fulfill Boris Johnson’s electoral promise to take over the leadership,” Karim added.
“In any case, it is an illustration of a position that tends to view Islamophobia as an issue that is best left aside when it is not being used to promote culture wars, and not as a serious and systematic problem that must be eliminated,” Karim declared.
Translated by Daniel Gallego.
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